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Analysis: Three and a Half Years of Shakesqueer

I consider myself incredibly lucky that anybody reads what I write. This began as some articles that my friends would see and that would keep them entertained for a couple of minutes every week. Even after a year and a half of doing this, it never felt like much more than me spouting my opinions into the void. At three and a half years, I think it may be time to realise that this has become more than just a hobby. It’s become a part of my life and I couldn’t be happier about that. It’s led to some amazing opportunities and has allowed me to meet some incredible people (who I’ll hopefully get to have an IRL conversation with some day.)

It’s been two years since I did an analysis piece, primarily because I kept forgetting to, but it’s wound up being the perfect amount of time between them. There are very few articles here that were in the last analysis, although one section remains noticeably unchanged. Some edits in creation have been made too. The lists and editorials have been merged, since I figure the former acts as a subsection of the latter, and the word counts now include every word except the titles.

The one thing that hasn’t changed though is my gratitude. Whether you’re new or you’ve been around a while, I can’t thank you enough for paying attention to my ramblings. So, without further ado, I give you…DATA!

Longest Reviews

Avengers: Endgame (2576 words)

The Matrix Trilogy (2400 words)

Pixar Theatrical Shorts (2228 words)

Independence Day Duology (2021 words)

Avengers Assemble (2004 words)

It makes sense that for the impact the MCU has had on my life that the first and last installments would make it onto this list, although for different reasons. The first half of the Assemble review is a discussion about the horrific personal actions of the director whilst there was just so much to unpack with Endgame that it’s a miracle it wasn’t longer. Noticeably, the other three pieces are compilations, but the PIXAR one is the one I’m proudest of here because, unlike the other two, it’s entirely new. Considering PIXAR and the place they have in animation history, it’s a surprise that this one isn’t longer either.

Shortest Reviews

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (257 words)

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (270 words)

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (285 words)

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (316 words)

Pride (378 words)

Totally unchanged from the last time and it probably always will be. The initial reviews for the Star Wars saga were written for Tumblr (don’t bother looking, you won’t find them) and the “Authors Notes” sections were added to beef them up a bit to be more “professional”. It seems almost fruitless now and I’ve considered writing new reviews from scratch to replace these pieces but I’ll never hide them. They are the earliest works that I have and, if nothing else, serve as a reminder of just how far I’ve come.

Longest Editorials

The Small Things 2021 (9749 words)

Superhero Rights: The Story So Far (6535 words)

The Small Things 2020 (4276 words)

Doctor Who is Dying and the BBC are to Blame (3996 words)

The TROS Defense (3064 words)

Three more compilations on this list, with the final two pieces being more editorial. Although, Superhero Rights was one that I’d initially planned to release at once before it became unwieldy and splitting it up made more sense. To this day, it technically remains unfinished because I was waiting for some major film rights updates to pen an epilogue of sorts but they’re in such a state of flux that it may be a couple of years before that comes to fruition. As for the TROS Defense…I stand by it. It may come across as slightly arrogant or like I was in a deep state of denial about how bad TROS was but I’m proud of how well researched and written it is.

Shortest Editorials

Ranking the Middle Earth Saga (338 words)

10 Films I’ll watch in 2020 (424 words)

Ranking the Star Wars Saga (439 words)

2022 Oscar Predictions (447 words)

Growing Up with the MCU (452 words)

More compilations, this time covering areas that don’t require so many words. Sometimes there is only so much that can be said or that needs to be said, to the extent that even I can’t ramble too long. That Star Wars list could probably do with an update considering it hasn’t been touched since TLJ came out. I’m always surprised at how short that MCU piece is, considering the importance of it. At the time, it was the most personal thing I’d ever written, but I’ve started pouring so much of my soul into some of my pieces that this likely isn’t the case any more. I still love it though and I still miss Stan Lee.

Word Counts

Reviews: 146,847

Editorials: 60,383

Total: 206,599

Number of Pieces

0-500: 13 reviews, 6 editorials

501-1000: 87 reviews,18 editorials

1001-1500: 59 reviews, 6 editorials

Over 1500: 9 reviews, 10 editorials

Total: 159 reviews, 40 editorials

Palindromic Pieces

10 Films I’ll Watch in 2020 (424 words)

10 Films I’ll Watch in 2021: Retrospective (464 words)

The Matrix Resurrections (757 words)

Cars 3 (1001 words)

The Incredibles (858 words)

Jessica Jones Series 1 (707 words)

Kingsmen: The Secret Service (646 words)

The Lego Batman Movie (676 words)

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Road to No Way Home

It’s no secret that I was hesitant about Spider-Man: No Way Home. The third in the MCU’s trilogy of Spider-Man films seemed like it might be filled with nostalgia and very little else. This was the cap on an iteration of a character that I hadn’t been overly fond of in a franchise that has been known to rely heavily on connections to itself. I was hesitant.

Then I saw it and came to a conclusion that I did not expect – it was good. It wasn’t perfect, not the new “Best Spider-Man Film” as many fans claimed, but that over-reliance on nostalgia never manifested. Instead, there was a decent story, with the occasional flaw, which ultimately resulted in a solid origin story for the MCU’s Peter Parker.

However, it never occurred to me that this might be the case. I hoped, of course, but never let myself believe it and I made my hesitancy known. What follows is a collection of every single tweet I made in regards to No Way Home, both on my professional and private accounts. It is preserved here as a reminder, both for you and myself, that opinions can change. You never truly know what a movie or television show is going to give you until you see it for yourself.

(08/12/20) Do not drag the Raimi trilogy into the MCU. Stop.

(09/12/20) If Disneys Spider-Man 3 fails, people will cite that it’s because there were too many villains/characters. I would like to be the first to say, miles ahead of time, that this is incorrect.

(09/12/20) If they called it Spider-Man: No Place Like Home, I would die of embarrassment on Disney’s behalf. Be funny though.

(30/01/21) Listen. I like canon as much as the next nerd BUT I doubt that the MCU will make Agents of SHIELD and The Defenders and its associated shows canon. IF any characters make their way into the MCU, it’ll probably be as alternate versions of those characters. This also applies to the upcoming Spider-Man 3, Doctor Strange 2, and WandaVision because this will end up being a massive multiverse just NOT in the way that you think it will.

Please remember to manage your expectations

(24/02/21) Good morning to the MCU fans who thought we were getting a Spider-Man 3 title because Tom Holland was on a talk show last night.

(24/02/21) I would not at all be shocked if we only get a Spider-Man 3 title when WandaVision is over. Maybe even a “Wanda Will return in Spider-Man: Home Run” at the end of Episode 9

(24/02/21) Spider-Man: No Homo

(24/02/21) With the announcement of Spider-Man: No Way Home, I would like to tell you all that the FIRST Spider-Man 3 is good and that Marc Webb deserved to make Amazing Spider-Man 3. This should be the 3rd time we’re being entertained by a “Spider-Man 3

(17/04/21) My fave thing about Alfred Molina returning as Doc Ock is the use of de-aging in some scenes. So they’re almost definitely pulling the old “he’s been in the MCU all along, we just haven’t heard from him yet” bit. It’s kinda ridiculous and I’m kinda here for it

(1/05/21) Spider-Man: No Way Home is trending today and it will trend again tomorrow due to one of these 3 things. 1) The trailer doesn’t come out and people get upset. 2) It comes out and confirms the involvement of Maguire and/or Garfield and everybody loses their collective minds 3) It comes out and DOESN’T confirm their involvement prompting a backlash. REGARDLESS of the outcome, Disney is going to get free publicity for their movie so react however you want because it literally does not matter to them. (Personally don’t want them involved btw)

(31/05/21) When we do get a trailer for Disney’s Spider-Man it will ABSOLUTELY use at least their voices. The amount of hype it would produce would be unfathomable. I wouldn’t agree with this tactic but I’d understand it. Still don’t want them in the movie though.

(01/06/21) Spider-Man: No Way, Homo

(23/07/21) SPIDER-MAN TRENDING AGAIN?? They will release it when they release it.

(23/08/21) Waiting for the official release of the Spider-Man: NWH trailer like a good little nerd

(24/08/21) I will not let the No Way Home Trailer nostalgia-bait me. It is a lazy tactic to draw me in… I’m still gonna watch the movie though. Doc Ock looking fine.

(27/08/21) SURE SPIDER-MAN 3 ISN’T PERFECT BUT IT ISN’T THAT BAD. I DON’T WANT A SINGLE PERSON TO PRAISE NO WAY HOME BECAUSE “IT MADE MULTIPLE VILLAINS WORK”

(08/11/21) Me saying that I don’t trust spoilers and then being proven right is pure narcissistic joy.

(08/11/21) All Spider-Man: Now Way Home fans

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(9/11/21) Perhaps Sony is releasing images of Tom Holland on a bridge to remind you that this is a Tom Holland Spider-Man movie because SOME of you seem to have forgotten that.

(9/11/21) If not seeing Tobey and Andrew in NWH will “ruin” that movie for you, if you’re going to throw a hissy fit because “Sony lied” then do us all a favour and please keep that opinion to yourself.

(26/11/21) Hot MCU Spider-Man takes.

*Peter should have been an adult

*No Way Home feels like it was made as a reaction to Into The Spider-verse

*Making MJ a WOC was their best decision

*Villains are the main reason the films are good

*Venom doesn’t fit the MCU

(10/12/21) This might be a tad controversial but This Picture, TO ME, is emblematic of my main issue with NWH. Marvel is just using these characters because they can. So that they can rush a Sinister 6 film. They will just adapt the characters we love to fit their narrative.

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(13/12/21) 31st December. That’s the soonest I can see it. “Frustrated” doesn’t cover it.

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(15/12/21) Sometimes a small-scale story is OK. Not everything has to be bigger than the last. Yes, this is about No Way Home/ Dr. Who

(15/12/21) Saw Spider-Man: No Way Home spoilers and the WORST thing is that I kind of don’t care. It just confirms my hesitations about the film. Hoping I still have fun with it but full thoughts in a couple weeks I guess.

(22/12/21) Marvel having their whole NWH marketing campaign be about avoiding spoilers, only to start marketing the follow-up barely a week later is the most hypocritical, corporate BS I’ve ever seen.

(27/12/21) Keep thinking about how I will have seen No Way Home by the time the year ends. Absolutely wild. It’s been part of Conversation for like 2 years now and soon it’ll be over. And then it gets to consume my thoughts for another few months presumably. Pray for me.

(31/12/21) Spider-Man: No Way Home is good. Peter Parker faces off against multiversal foes in a story that is fun but held back by relying on the worldbuilding of other creators. It’s exciting to see these characters again in what is the best MCU Spidey movie but it also makes some bad choices.

Spoiler-Free Review: https://shakesqueer.home.blog/2022/01/08/spider-man-no-way-home-spoiler-free/

Spoiler-Filled Review: https://shakesqueer.home.blog/2022/01/09/spider-man-no-way-home-spoilers/

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Doctor Who is Dying (And The BBC Are To Blame)

Where We’ve Been

I adore Doctor Who with all of my heart and I have done for the past 15 years. It has become my comfort show, always there for me even when I feel like nobody is. I’ve seen a lot of people criticising the show in my time, both fairly and unfairly, but I’ve never really discussed my own opinions on it beyond that I like it. I rarely stray from the positive vibes that I’m attempting to put out into the world but I feel like, in this case, I can make an exception. Before we begin, I’d like to state that a large part of this is theory built upon what we know, and a fair amount of scepticism. I pray that I’m wrong, but this thought has been circling my head for some time now and I feel like it’s worth putting to page.

I think the BBC is trying to kill Doctor Who… Again.

First, a little history. From 1974 to 1984, the show was at the height of its popularity. Both Tom Baker and Pete Davidson, who played the 4th and 5th Doctor respectively, were popular with viewers before Colin Baker took over as the 6th Doctor. This is where the issues began. Baker is a wonderful actor, however his portrayal of the titular Time Lord was filled with spite and malice. This, coupled with what many saw as an increase in violence, supposedly made studio executives very nervous. After his second series, which aired in early 1985, the BBC put the show on an 18 month hiatus before returning in late 1986 with a single story airing over 14 episodes titled Trial of a Time Lord. It was not received well, and in 1987, after Baker’s 31 episode run, Sylvester McCoy began his tenure as the 7th Doctor which lasted for 42 episodes. At the time of the show’s cancellation in 1989, the head of BBC Series was Peter Creegan and the controller for BBC1 was Micheal Grade. They both hated the show, with Grade being responsible for the 18 month hiatus, feeling like the show was cheap and old fashioned. After being relegated to varying timeslots week after week, citing falling ratings, Doctor Who was put on hiatus with the BBC promising it would return soon. It would return for a TV Movie in 1996 before entering a hiatus once more.

In 2005 the show officially returned, with Russel T. Davies at the helm and, for one series, Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor, before the role was taken over by David Tennant. It’s no secret that once they left in 2010 the show’s popularity declined, and whilst Stephen Moffat was showrunner these ratings remained fairly low. However when Chris Chibnall took over in 2017, the ratings began hitting an all time low, although I don’t think this is entirely his fault. One of my largest issues with the show is the increasingly large scale series finales, which peaked under Russel T. Davies, and which felt a little forced under Stephen Moffat. Both showrunners very last episodes felt like the could serve as an ending to the show itself, especially Moffat’s which includes the First Doctor, making it feel like the show has ‘come full circle’. This episode, titled Twice Upon A Time, aired in 2017 and I have my suspicions that the BBC considered cancelling the show at this point. Moffat had given it an ending and the viewing figures were at an all time low. Even if they cancelled it, there would still be all of the merchandising and overseas sales to make a profit on, which I suspect is where the bulk of money relating to the show comes from anyway. However, the 60th anniversary was only 6 years away. I speculate that the BBC chose to prolong the death of the show in order to air a 60th anniversary episode, because the 50th anniversary episode pulled in the most viewers the show has ever had (10million in the UK alone).

2017 was an interesting year in other areas of the BBC, namely leadership. Since 2007, the body in charge of the corporation was the BBC Trust whose sole aim was to act in the interest of the licence-fee payers. Much of the BBC’s money comes from the fee of £145.50 per year that they charged at the time people to view programmes live. This changed slightly in late 2016 (whilst people behind the scenes were attempting to dissolve the Trust) when the law changed, meaning that access to the BBC’s on-demand service also required a TV Licence. In 2017, the BBC Trust was replaced by the BBC Board, which comprised of various people, including former Conservative politicians and bankers. I’m not getting into politics, but Conservatives are not known for being progressive, unlike Doctor Who which has always been progressive. The revived series in particular has given us several queer characters (one of whom got their own spin-off show) and people of colour (two of whom entered the TARDIS as a companion).

Enter Jodie Whittaker. I don’t deal with change very well, and having a female Doctor was a significant change so I was initially hesitant. However, I soon grew to love her iteration of the character, despite some lacklustre writing. Many bigots claimed that her casting was “THE BBC GONE WOKE” and that they were “PANDERING TO THE SJWS” which is an unacceptable view to have. Fans of the show had been calling for a female Doctor for a couple of iterations by this point, and I feel like casting Jodie was, in some small part, allowed by the BBC to keep the fans of the show happy. It might have worked on me had they not completely under-utilised her.

Where We Are

Sine Doctor Who‘s revival in 2005, the standard amount of episodes per series has been 13. This has decreased to 10 episodes per series under Chibnall, with Series 11 airing in late 2018 and Series 12 airing at the beginning of 2020. It was also relegated to the notorious Sunday night slot which nobody pays attention to. It feels as if the BBC were trying to make the series as difficult to watch as possible, and feels eerily similar to how the show was treated in the 1980s. Alongside this, it feels like the BBC has not made a real effort to market the show. During the RTD era, and into the Moffat era, we were treated to entire pull-outs in the Radio Times with synopsis for each episode and the guest star of the week. There were extra episodes online, on the Red Button and during Children in Need. Doctor Who Adventures magazine began its very popular syndication, as did spin-off shows like Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Class. At the height of the show’s popularity was the 50th anniversary in 2013.

The 50th anniversary episode, titled The Day of The Doctor, featured the 11th and 10th incarnations alongside the newly introduced War Doctor played by the late, great Sir John Hurt. It was centred around fighting a Zygon army in the present whilst simultaneously ending the Last Great Time War in the past. No expense was spared and the episode aired simultaneously in 93 countries on TV and in cinemas. It brought in 12.8 million British viewers, 2.4 million American viewers and $10.2million at the worldwide box office. The prologue episode, Night of the Doctor featured the return of Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor whilst the tie-in parody The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot featured Peter Davidson, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy (Doctors 5,6, & 7) bemoaning how they weren’t asked back for the special itself. Even Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor, who was 79 at the time made a cameo in the anniversary episode. The collective gasp in my local cinema from fans remains a cherished highlight. It’s difficult to convey to anybody who wasn’t there but it was an outstandingly large deal. If the 60th is anywhere near as large, the BBC should consider themselves lucky.

San Diego Comic-Con 2021

The world has been at a standstill for over a year, and there hasn’t been a new episode of Doctor Who since March 2020. That’s 17 months. However there is hope of some new information in the form of a Doctor Who panel at SDCC 2021 which, due to the global pandemic, has been pre-recorded and will go live on Comic-Con’s official YouTube channel. This panel will feature Chris Chibnall, Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill and John Bishop as well as a mystery special guest. It will be the first time that John has had a chance to speak about his character Dan, who will be new to the 13th series and whose last name has not been revealed, which in turn led to some theories about former companions he could be related to. This is on us, the fans, for becoming too convinced by our own theories. What isn’t on us is how hyped we were for the special guest. The official Doctor Who accounts had hyped it up for several weeks, making it clear that this person was a big deal. Perhaps it was Jo Martin (The Fugitive Doctor), Sacha Dhawan (The Master), David Tennant (The 10th Doctor) or a companion of Doctors’ Past. This special guest was the most hype I have seen from the fanbase and the most marketing that I have seen from the BBC, in quite some time. There was a lot of enthusiasm going into this panel.

What we learned was that the special guest was actor/songwriter Jacob Anderson who will be playing the new role of Vinder. I’m not familiar with his work, but he was in Game of Thrones, so I know that this will have excited a group of people. However a large portion of the fanbase were understandably disappointed that all of the hype had been for a new character. This does not excuse the people who sent Jacob angry messages and death threats. I can’t believe that fandoms are still having to have this discussion in 2021, but harassing a celebrity for a decision you disagree with is unacceptable behaviour especially when it is not the fault of the celebrity. From the interview he gave, he seems genuinely passionate about the role and is delighted to be a part of Doctor Who after being a fan for many years. I wish him nothing but the best.

We also learned that Dan’s full name is Dan Lewis. As far as I can tell, this surname holds no bearing in the history of the show so I have no idea why this information wasn’t presented with John Bishop’s announcement. Next we were provided with some information about Series 13, and it seems interesting to me. Given the pandemic, a full series run (of 10 episodes) was out of the question but a series of 8 episodes had been commissioned which was great news. This was better than getting no Doctor Who at all. During the panel, Chris Chibnall announced that the series would only be 6 episodes long which is 2 episodes shorter than he had previously said it would be, but it’s better than no Doctor Who at all. Then he informed us that this series would be one story split into 6 chapters. I’m not adverse to this idea, and I think it’s a really interesting way to shake things up, but it’s difficult not to compare it to Trial of a Time Lord especially when the show’s run is already so comparable to the first time it was cancelled.

Then came the trailer. I’ve seen a large amount of defence, but I’ve mostly seen it being criticised as not giving us enough information and I agree with the latter take. If you enjoyed the trailer, I’m happy for you—if not a little envious—and for your excitement, but I personally didn’t feel like the trailer gave us enough. The trailer itself was 40 seconds long and showed us shots of the core cast either standing around or running. There was one shot of an aerial chase and a couple of shots of locations, but no monsters and no release date. I saw someone online claim that fans who didn’t like the trailer have been spoiled by the long, exciting movie trailers that we get currently, but I think that’s wrong. I personally am not a fan of current movie trailers, but setting them aside, let’s compare the Series 13 trailer to trailers from series’ past. Since 2005, each trailer for a new series has featured the monsters and locations we are going to see, as well as a returning character if there is one (it’s usually a Dalek). These trailers all run at around 1 minute in length but still pack in plenty of frames for fans of the show to dissect. This is true for the first trailer for every new series since 2005, except for Series 11 which really emphasised how new everything was. There was a return to form for the Series 12 trailer, which featured 5 individual monsters. I’ve seen some say that if you’ve paid attention to production then you already know what monsters are going to be in Series 13 so they don’t need to put them in trailers. The majority of people have not seen these set leaks, but let’s say for the sake of argument that they had: it would then make no sense for the BBC to continue hiding this information from the public. This happened before during filming for Series 4, when it was let slip that Rose Tyler would be returning, so she got inserted into the trailer.

Every time an initial trailer for a new series has been released, there are usually 3 months before the series actually airs. However it would have been nice, given how little we know about Series 13, to be given an air date at the very least. I wouldn’t class it as essential, but as a courtesy. It’s returning in “late 2021” but, by looking at past trailers, I think it’s safe to assume that the series will begin airing near the end of October. This is nearly 18 months, which puts it equal will the longest official hiatus the show has ever had, but I suppose I can wait several months and find out what the series is about when it airs. I’m going to be honest, I was upset after the panel but what happened next was much worse

Where we Continue To Be

It had been 3 days since the panel and I was in Glasgow, en route to a family wedding. It had been a really nice day with plenty of shopping and I took the opportunity while queuing in a shop to check Twitter. There it was, at the top of my news feed. Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker are leaving Doctor Who in 2022 with 3 specials, including a feature length finale, airing that year. I had been contemplating writing this piece over the past couple of months but this is what finally pushed me over the edge into writing it.

Firstly, I have to wonder why the announcement was made 3 days after a Comic-Con panel, which are designed for announcements like this. This panel was supposed to be about the future of Doctor Who so perhaps they should have informed us about the biggest change coming to the show. Furthermore, I wonder why this announcement was made at all. Jodie and Chris still have a series and some specials left to go, and I feel like this announcement really undercuts that. We should be focussing on them and the stories they are trying to tell, but instead the public discussion has turned to who will be replacing them. To put it bluntly, this move feels disrespectful to everybody currently working on the show. The person I feel who is being disrespected most by this move is Jodie, who over 4 years, will have received just 31 episodes. By the way, that’s exactly the same amount as Colin Baker. They both deserved a chance at more. In an interview to the press, Chibnall stated that he and Jodie had made a pact of “3 years and out” but that sounds like it should be 3 full series.

The biggest question left hanging over us is what happens to Doctor Who now. Who will be the new showrunner and Doctor? What will Series 14 and the 60th anniversary look like? Is Tasmin Cole staying for another series as Yaz? And, more pertinently to this piece, what would I like to see going forward?

Where We’re Going

When it comes to casting the next Doctor, I don’t think there’s a single option where the BBC pleases everyone. If they cast a man, it makes it look like casting a woman in the role was a mistake, but if they cast another woman they will continue to be blasted by people who think the show is too woke. Ideally, I want another woman as The Doctor and it should probably be a person of colour. Due to the lore of the Fugitive Doctor, I think that casting Jo Martin is out of the question (unfortunately), but maybe Lydia West (It’s A Sin) or another rising star. I don’t think The Doctor should be played by somebody with Hollywood level fame because Doctor Who isn’t just another role. It should be of huge importance to whoever gets the lead and should open doors for them. The actor/actress should also be British, because the show is quintessentially British. I also think they should have theatre experience, because this is a theatrical show and The Doctor is a theatrical character. A trans woman would be really cool, and a continuation of the progressive stance the show has always had, but I suspect the BBC are too cowardly and nobody would willingly throw themselves so openly to the transphobic wolves.

As important as the main role is the role of showrunner, which has been Chris Chibnalls job for the last several years. Since Doctor Who came back, it has been run by fans of the show, and I think that this is a tradition that should continue. I also want somebody who is going to write the show as a spectacle instead of a TV Show. One of my largest issues with Chibnall is that Doctor Who felt like a run-of-the-mill TV show with drama and static cameras. The screen should be filled with enthusiasm in the acting, the words and the camerawork because The Doctors life is chaotic and messy. I’ve always had a slight issue with Doctor Who falling under the “BBC Drama” umbrella, despite it being a large and vague umbrella, because this show should be primarily science-fiction. This is a show that I was made fun of for watching because it was seen as weird, but I didn’t care because I loved it. The show should be proud of how weird it is.

I’d argue that there is a 3rd job we should be talking about and that is the role of composer. When the show was revived in 2005, it was alongside a phenomenal score by Murray Gold and the London Symphony Orchestra. The show did not rely on the score, but it elevated every single scene it was used in. It was what helped Doctor Who be great instead of good. Murray left in 2017, and his duties were passed on to Segun Akinola who is a well accomplished composer himself. However, his bass-heavy score feels like it’s just a score, and I feel like it’s missing the heart and “oomph” of the show. There was no announcement as to whether he is also leaving so, if he stays, I would like his music to convey whatever tone the show has next.

And what of the 60th? I think it’s a fair assumption that we’ll receive an anniversary episode, especially considering how popular the last one was. It may be helmed by whoever takes over as showrunner for Series 14 or by a former writer for the show, but I can’t settle on what form I want it to take. Many fans would like a multi-Doctor story, like we’ve had so many times before, but I’m not sold on that concept. It’s either going to be massive, with all 14 Doctors, or small with just 2, and I feel like a small scale one would work best. The thing is that these have both been done before, and within the last decade at that. My favourite option, before the announcement, was another TV Movie. The Doctor faces off against an old enemy that we haven’t seen since the classic series, such as the Time Meddling Monk, and is drastically injured in the process. She regenerates very early on, much like the original TV Movie, but (crucially) the marketing doesn’t spoil this. We’d know going in that The Doctor is going to regenerate, but we don’t know how soon. The majority of our plot is a brand new Doctor chasing down The Monk in a story like The Chase but more concise and exciting. I’d have liked that, and I think the fanbase would have too.

I think the main thing I want now is a TV Extravaganza Panel, similar to the one they did when Peter Capaldi was announced as the 12th Doctor (but not live in front of a studio audience). Get together as many people as possible from the 60 years this franchise has been going and have Christopher Ecclestone host it because he deserves to be highlighted. Just walk down memory lane, show off surviving props, allow for banter and just pour as much love into it as possible. None of us want to be thinking about this, but there will be members of cast and crew who won’t be around for the 70th anniversary. Tom Baker will be 99. I don’t even know if the show will still be on the air by then. There’s every chance that, if I’m right, it won’t make it far past the 60th. Whatever form the 60 anniversary takes, I want it to be full of the love and excitement that has allowed Doctor Who to survive for so long.

I adore this dumb little show and writing about it has been the most emotional that I’ve gotten in quite a while. It has led me to do research and listen to soundtracks and become more invested than I ever was. When I tell you that, based on theories and evidence, I think the BBC is attempting to kill the show, it fills me with nothing but sorrow. Even if they aren’t, I don’t think Doctor Who gets as much love as it used to. The fans are still here, and over the course of the pandemic we banded together in a way that we should all be proud of, but there is divisiveness. This kind of divisiveness exists in all fandoms, but to see it in this one hurts more. We’re all here for the same reason. We all like Doctor Who. Even with falling ratings, we’re all still here. I know that some of you have been here since the shows debut in 1963, since the high point of Baker’s era in the 1970s, since the return in 2005, and since our first female Doctor in 2017. Some of us have seen a lot, and some of us not so much, but we’re here because we fell in love with stories of a Time Lord travelling the stars. Even when the show ends, we will still be here and I think that’s beautiful.

How does this show end? I hope it ends the same way every episode over the last 60 years has ended. The Doctor steps into their TARDIS before disappearing into another adventure. The show can end, but The Doctor will always be out there.

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

What The Shire Means To Me

I grew up on The Lord of the Rings. My father owned 5th edition printings of the books (the ones with with the circle on each cover) and, when the extended versions of the Peter Jackson films were released, he bought those too. These films introduced me to the wonderful world of JRR Tolkien, and I would take every opportunity I could to watch them – of which there were plenty, as they were constantly being shown on television. It wouldn’t be until I was about 9 or 10 that I would finally get around to reading through the books themselves and, having fallen in love with the simple complexity of Middle Earth, I moved onto The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. For me, Tolkien’s world became a second home, but I always found myself drawn to the realm of The Shire in particular.

I grew up in a small island community focused primarily on farming. We have a population in my hometown of just over 8,000 people, and I find it to be similar to The Shire in many ways. Bard the Bowman once said of his village Laketown that “It’s a small town, everyone knows where everyone lives” which is true of all communities this small. Even if somebody isn’t aware of somebody else’s address, there seem to be no qualms with openly sharing that information, especially if they happen to be buying from another local online. There is a certain amount of comfort in the people who surround you, even if you don’t know them by name. There is a comfort in The Known , and a fear of The Unknown. Personally I find 8,000 people to be a bit too much, so I would prefer a population closer to that of Hobbiton. It’s large enough that it isn’t purely family members, but small enough that I could still recognise everybody by name.

The attitudes between my two homes are similar as well. There is a certain “status quo” that needs maintaining, and I see this in the reaction to changes proposed by our local council. If they want to change the layout of the high street or add bollards on roads, then the general public will make their disdain known. Even if changes were to be made, it would require vigorous planning and compromises to be met. It’s the kind of place in which abandoning your entire life to assist Dwarves on a quest to retake their homeland would probably be frowned upon. I’m sure that it was the talk of The Shire that day, and the day after, but eventually life returned to normal. It was yesterday’s news, and people moved on. This is true the world over, but I think it is especially prevalent in small communities where word travels fast, and news reaches everybody before the day is out. Of course the status quo does not necessarily need to exist in your own household, but in public you behave in a way that is acceptable. Gandalf is seen as a bit of a troublemaker by the time of Fellowship of the Ring but he recognises the customs that are in place. He doesn’t do anything he thinks might upset the peace.

Bilbo happens to be a brilliant example of the status that exists within small communities. He becomes a well known figure, and his 111th birthday is such a large event that even those hobbits who don’t receive invites are expected to attend anyway. This kind of notoriety leads to people recognising you even if you don’t recognise them. I have, to a fairly small extent, been prone to this myself, although I tend to get recognised because of my mother’s charity work as opposed to my own. However my grandfather- a local historian- was definitely a man of great renown within my hometown, to the extent that walking through the street could take an hour instead of the 15 minutes it should, because people continuously stopped to speak to him. He passed away recently, and as the hearse drove him through every main road, there were numerous people lining the pavements out of respect. All events here are major, and I’d presume that is even more the case in The Shire.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of Hobbit-life is how relaxed it seems to be. Even in my hometown, which is viewed generally as a “simple farming community”, the 21st century has arrived and the nature of modern life has taken hold. Everybody seems to feel the need to be constantly busy, always in a rush to get somewhere. We have an ever growing number of loud boy racers doing engine revs late at night, and construction sites starting early in the morning. The town is constantly moving except for in the very early hours. Between the closing of the pubs and the opening of the shops, there exist several hours of peace. I have often found myself awake during that time feeling more at ease than ever. I’m not really a people person. I get anxious in large crowds, even if it’s a large group of friends, I often feel like the general public is judging me for being openly queer, and the people here can come across as a little brazen. I don’t dislike the people here, but I have always said that my town would be a perfect place without them.

I think this is why I fell so deeply in love with The Shire. It is the ideal version of my own hometown. It lacks the harsh aura and the busy atmosphere, whilst having the smaller elements that make my town home. I see in those hobbits the same kinds of people that I already know, from the elderly men smoking over a pint, to the children just excited to watch fireworks. I have friends like Sam, Merry, and Pippin whom I trust as much as Frodo trusts them. Of course, I see myself as Frodo, as I’m sure many people who read The Lord of the Rings do (although it requires some genderbending on my part). Here is a hobbit who wants to see the world, but is still so at ease in the place where he lives. Much like his uncle before him, it would take a wizard to nudge him through the door of adventure, and I hope that my partner can eventually do the same for me. It also helps to associate The Shire with a beautiful piece of music like “Concerning Hobbits” which never fails to bring me joy.

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

My Sarah Jane

I was born and raised during a time when there was no Doctor Who on television. As a child of 1997, I was 8 years old when it returned to our screens and I only discovered its existence by coincidence. My family were on a trip to a small Scottish island at the time and, as often happens on a Saturday evening, we found ourselves flicking through the television channels. I can’t remember if we were waiting for a show on BBC 1 to air, but this is where we arrived on the 18th of June 2005 as The Ninth Doctor defeated the Daleks and exploded in a radiant display of flames. By the time the first series with The Tenth Doctor began the following year, I had learned everything I could about this fascinating entity through magazines and fact books and I very quickly came to love the dumb little show about time travel and aliens. The show has gone through ups and downs since then, but I’m still here and committing that cardinal sin of believing the show was better back in my day.

When School Reunion aired on the 29th of April 2006, I was aware of Sarah Jane Smith but my knowledge mainly consisted of her being a companion to The Fourth Doctor who everybody loved. This episode was the first time I was properly introduced to her character, and to Elizabeth Sladen- the actress who portrayed her. Here was a companion who The Doctor had hurt, who felt abandoned by him, and the show didn’t hold back in talking about it. Sarah Jane had become a hardened investigative reporter, partly in the hopes of finding him again, and that was really cool to me. I left that episode wanting to spend more time with her. In 2007, I got my wish.

Once again, my family was on holiday. We had gone stay with my Grandma in the central Scottish belt, as we did every year, and I was perfectly aware that the first episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures was due to air while we were there. Despite not getting my interest in the show, my family let me watch it, and for a whole hour I followed the wonderful Sarah Jane as she embarked on a new journey and made new friends. The excitement level when it was announced that this show (and the more adult spinoff show Torchwood) were going to cross over for the Series 4 finale of Doctor Who cannot be overstated. I had gotten completely sucked in to the Whoniverse over those few years and this was the culmination of all those shows existing at the same time. It was my very first shared universe, and that concept has gone on to be quite the special interest for me. There was a hype around this show that, I feel, was only seen again with the 50th anniversary episode in 2013, and I don’t think words could explain what it was like to experience it at the time. There is a weight behind every single character in this finale, but especially from Elizabeth Sladen. Her ferocity when challenged, her terror at hearing the Daleks and her grief of realising what she had to lose really finalised how much I love acting.

The Sarah Jane Adventures would continue, and Sarah Jane herself would reappear for The Tenth Doctor’s swansong in 2010, but what happened next made all those moments so much more special. On the 19th of April 2011, exactly ten years ago, Elizabeth Sladen passed away. As was my weekly plan, I was at my Grandad’s after school watching whatever re-run was on television. My Uncle had returned and it was then that he informed me of her passing. I didn’t believe him at first, and I think that’s because I really didn’t want to. I’d never met Elizabeth Sladen, but Sarah Jane Smith had been an integral part of my life for 5 years, and I didn’t know how I was going to cope now that she was gone. We’d buried my Grandpa the previous year, so I’d already dealt with death, but this was the very first time that a celebrity I cared about had gone. She was 65 and that is far too young.

That final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures was halfway through production, and those 3 stories would be broadcast over a 6 episode run, but there was a real sense of bitter sweetness surrounding them. This was the last time we would ever see or hear anything new from Elizabeth Sladen, and that final episode ends with a voiceover from her cut together from unused Series 1 dialogue. I look back on that show with such a massive amount of fondness because that was my Sarah Jane. There is an entire generation that grew up with her as a companion, but there are an equal portion of us who grew up with her through the new era, and it doesn’t matter which one you are. Both generations loved her and both generations miss her terribly.

On the ninth anniversary of her passing, showrunner Russel T. Davies penned a loving tribute episode that, due to a global pandemic, was shot by individual actors from individual homes. Farewell, Sarah Jane brought together everybody that Elizabeth Sladen had worked with through the Whoniverse, and in character, they attended the funeral of Sarah Jane Smith. Even all these years later, she is still making a difference.

Elizabeth Sladen deserves every single letter of affection being penned today and in the years to come.

This is mine.

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

MCU Reviews: Prologue

I have been following the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) since its inception, which at the time of writing was 13 years ago. It was a different time, and I was a different person, but my love for the MCU has remained more or less the same. Since 2008 I have watched all 23 feature films, 5 “One Shots” and 7 of the 13 television series, however not all of those series’ are considered MCU Canon, which has been a point of contention for many. In the early days, there was a real effort to make shows like Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter feel like they could be connected to the larger picture, but as more projects have come out and timeline alterations have been made, this has not continued to be the case. One could certainly argue that those two shows are still canon, because with The Multiverse anything is possible, but I haven’t really seen them as such in the time that they have been around. This matter was laid to rest last year with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige stating in an interview that the previous Marvel Shows are separate from the main film timeline. For my series of reviews, I will be focussing purely on the official MCU Canon but instead of doing them in release order, I am opting to watch them in chronological order. Despite being a fan of the franchise for as long as it has been around, this will be the first time that I am viewing it this way.

My main purpose in these series, besides reviewing the films themselves, will be to see how differently the narrative flows. We, as fans, would like to think that it flow just as smoothly as the Star Wars franchise which also was not released according to its in-universe chronology, but I have my doubts. There is this general belief, I feel, that the MCU has always had this grand plan and that it has never had to walk back on or alter anything, but this simply isn’t true. When this was all still a little experiment, there was a semi-plan leading to Avengers Assemble but that plan also had an introduction to Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man) so clearly this franchise was built on a fair amount of faith. That faith has been well earned by now, but at the time superhero films had a poor reputation, as did Robert Downey Jr who would lead the very first endeavour Iron Man. As the universe grows, so too does the lore, and that lore can occasionally be tiny fragments that get forgotten about or retconned (looking at you Maximoff backstory). The other point of interest will be the mid/post credits scenes which almost always tie into the next film to be released. I love these segments, but I think that when viewing this franchise chronologically, these are going to cause a bit of a pacing issue.

I’ve been putting off a proper MCU Re-watch for a considerable amount of time now. I didn’t do one to prepare for Avengers: Endgame or Wandavision but I have been so invested in the story for such a long time that I didn’t have any issues remembering anything. There are certainly some projects that I have seen more than others, be it favouritism or lack of time since their release and after the lack of Marvel content in 2020, I found myself really missing this universe. I told myself I wouldn’t dip in and out of MCU films last year because I knew that my Big Re-watch was coming but that may have been slightly foolish of me. After a year off, I’m eager to get back into it and with Phase 4 of the MCU currently in it’s beginning stage, I can’t think of a better time to do this.

Excelsior!

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Thoughts on The Snyder Cut

*DISCLAIMER: This is not a review of the film itself, merely a discussion of the events surrounding it. One day, I do aim to provide you with that review.*

The Zack Snyder cut of 2017’s Justice League was finally released this week and I thought it was good. My response to anyone who has asked about its theoretical quality over the past few years has been ‘that’s not what’s important so I don’t care’ and that is almost entirely true. However, I’d be lying if I said that Zack Snyder’s Justice League being as bad as the 2017 cut wouldn’t have been a little embarrassing for all of us who asked for its release. Yes, we would have asked for a bad, movie but the movie’s quality still isn’t the important aspect in that scenario. You read that correctly by the way, I am indeed one of those #ReleaseTheSnyderCut people that you’ve probably read about, although I also probably am not. I’d imagine that you’ve read about the ones who were screaming at and harassing people on a daily basis as well as sending the occasional death threat but (I like to think) that those people are part of the very vocal minority. They aren’t tolerated by me and they also aren’t tolerated by Zack Snyder. I’m on of the fans who was quietly campaigning on Twitter and donating money to charities and just being a decent human being. When I jumped on the campaign almost 4 years ago, it had nothing to do with ‘getting a better movie’ and everything to do with allowing a creator to finish his vision. I choose to believe that this was the core reason for a lot of people, although there certainly were some bigger players who just wanted a better film, and I won’t belittle them for that. The only portions of this fandom that I refuse to be associated with are the aforementioned harassers and the previously unmentioned adults who screamed like children because they felt like they were entitled to this version of the film. The only people who truly deserved this film were the people who poured hours into making it, including the cast, crew and the Snyder family.

This all began before the initial film had even been released, while it was still in post-production in late 2016/early 2017. At a time when the finishing touches should have been added, Zack Snyder stepped away from the project to deal with the tragic passing of his daughter, Autumn. The project had already been slightly troubled, with the executives at Warner Brothers having very little faith in Snyder after he directed the box-office disappointment that was Batman Vs Superman. With Snyder gone, Warner Bros hired Joss Whedon to re-work the script from 4 hours down to 2 and shoot the footage he needed to make that possible. Between the re-worked Snyder footage and the CG’ing out of the moustache Henry Cavill had grown for Mission Impossible: Fallout, the Whedon Cut was a mess, and worse than that, it was an act of betrayal by a company who should have been more concerned about their directors. Zack Snyder was dealing with probably the most traumatic event in his life, while Joss Whedon was continuing to be a racist, misogynistic and aggressive piece of work. In the end, what some have dubbed Josstice League was 2 hours, with around 10-15 minutes of that being Snyder’s footage. This was mentioned at the time by those who worked on the project, later re-affirmed by Deborah Snyder, and eventually proven by the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. What really interests me is the footage that Whedon elected to keep, which seems to mainly consist of battle footage and, to my surprise, the scene where Bruce Wayne meets Barry Allen (although Joss did add some K-Pop footage on Barry’s monitors that was later removed for the Snyder Cut).

After nearly 4 years of fan campaigns and millions raised for suicide prevention charities. Warner Bros finally granted Zack Snyder money to finish his vision. This $70 million went to the VFX artists and composer who worked on getting it completed as well as to a finally ‘Knightmare Sequence’ near the end of the film which was the only new footage. Zack Snyder himself refused to take a single penny. There have been a lot of conversations recently, and I’m sure they will only continue. that if fans yell loud enough then they can get whatever they want changed and that is definitely a conversation worth having. The entitlement that some fans seem to have is but one of several problems plaguing every fandom, but I don’t thing that these conversations should include the Snyder Cut. There certainly was a lot of shouting, but this film came about due to such a unique set of circumstances that it really isn’t comparable to anything else. When you look at the reason the director left the project, the amount of unused footage that was shot, the amount of footage that was shot to replace it, the reason the initial director came back and the amount of effort that went into this film’s restoration, there’s really only one thing that matters.

Zack Snyder loves this film and, if his daughter was anything like him, I’m sure she would have too.

Until Next Time…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Analysis: A year and a half of Shakesqueer

I’ve been on quite the journey since I started writing this blog. When I started, I had just turned 22 and I’d been engaged for an entire year, but I was still living in my mother’s house. Now, here I am living with my fiance, and our cats, having been at my retail job for a year. If you’ve been here throughout all of that, very little of that or if this is your first trip here… thank you.

In celebration of our time together, and because I like sorting things, I thought it might be of interest to somebody to see some blog statistics. This has been a time consuming effort, not made any easier by my continuous upload schedule which then also has to be taken into account. So without any further ado, I give you… DATA.

LONGEST REVIEWS:

1- Cats (2019) [1612 words]

2- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [1443 words]

3- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [1281 words]

4- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [1274 words]

5- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [1224 words]

This list did not come as a surprise to me. It would make sense that the longest films I have reviewed would end up having the most to write about. In the case of Cats (2019) it is, I believe, a case of passion on my part. At just under 2 hours, it is far from the length of LOTR, but the decisions made during the production of this movie are truly baffling. My confusion was at an all time high, and when I write from a place of emotion, it is difficult to stop. What I find most interesting about this list is that the second film in each of the Middle Earth trilogies doesn’t make the cut. This actually aligns with my ranking of the entire saga, where I have these films as the least good in their respective trilogies.

SHORTEST REVIEWS

1- Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith [266 words]

2- Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace [277 words]

3- Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones [294 words]

4- Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi [325 words]

5- Pride [379 words]

In a highly un-shocking turn of events, my earliest reviews end up being the shortest. I initially wrote my reviews for the Star Wars saga in 2015 on Tumblr, and even adding to them 4 years later, I couldn’t pad them out all that much. The interesting part here is that both A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back fail to appear on this list, but at 390 and 459 words respectively, they were close. Perhaps the most noticeable piece on here is Pride, which was the first review of a queer film that I did. Carol, I Love you Phillip Morris, and Love Simon all run slightly short as well with 491, 535 and 493 words respectively. I’m still figuring out how to write for queer films because, of all the films I watch, they are the most important. You’ll find that I actually spend most of my time in those reviews writing about how they made me feel as opposed to the production of the films themselves.

LONGEST EDITORIALS

1- Superhero Rights: The Collection [6540 words]

2- The TROS Defense [3066 words]

3- Disney Minus [1776 words]

I remain immensely proud of these 3 pieces and stand by everything I said in the latter 2. I have put 3 editorials instead of 5 because there are so many fewer of them than there are reviews. In fact, I have only published 13 editorials in total, only one of which (Growing up on the MCU) was under 500 words. Superhero Rights came about for 2 reasons. Firstly, my family is not as versed in the lore of film companies as I am and I felt like I could at least try to bring them up to speed (because of course the tides have shifted again since its release). The second was that I have a real love for history and nothing fascinates me more than a good story. I was already interested in researching this history for my own purposes before realising, like many creators, that I might as well make some content out of it.

SHORTEST EDITORIALS

1- Suit Up: In defense of Comic Book Accuracy [561 words]

2- Remakes and Retribution [664 words]

3- Franchising [790 words]

Once again, we find my earliest work in this field to be the shortest. There is, I think, no better testament to how much my writing skills have improved than by comparing these lists. I used to worry that all of my pieces would fall short of what I wanted, but now most of them reach at least 1,000 words. Since I find this paragraph falling short, it is perhaps time that I admitted something to you… many of my editorials aren’t actually editorials. By definition, an editorial is an opinion piece, but I found myself unsure what to call these pieces that I had written. It was in this moment that my mind was cast back to the earlier days of The Nostalgia Critic and his editorials. It may not be accurate, but it’s about the only thing that I could find that fit so it stuck.

WORD COUNTS

Reviews- 60,366 words

Editorials- 22,371 words

Lists- 2,668 words

Total- 85, 405 words

UNDER 500 WORDS

Reviews- 10

Editorials- 1

Lists- 2

Total- 13

BETWEEN 500 AND 1000 WORDS

Reviews- 46

Editorials- 5

Lists- 3

Total- 54

OVER 1000 WORDS

Reviews- 19

Editorials- 8

Lists- 0

Total- 27

NUMBER OF PIECES WRITTEN

Reviews- 75

Editorials- 14

Lists- 5

Total- 94

PIECES THAT LAND PERFECTLY ON A 10

A Bug’s Life [660 words]

Brave [880 words]

Doctor Who Series 1 [670 words]

Independence Day [710 words]

Lilo and Stitch [710 words]

Monty Python and the Holy Grail [460 words]

Scooby Doo (2002) [1,200 words]

Shin Godzilla [1,130 words]

Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope [390 words]

Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker [1,090 words]

Franchising [790 words]

Superhero Rights: The Collection [6,540 words]

Shakesqueer: The Early Years [1,270 words]

PIECES WITH ONLY ONE NUMBER

The Matrix Reloaded [777 words]

Ranked: The Star Wars Saga [444 words]

There is something particularly pleasing about these. It could be the euphoria of achieving this without even trying. It could be because 777 is so close to 666 and Neo is a Christlike character. It could be because Star Wars as a franchise started with Episode 4.

Going forward to aim to keep a better catalogue of what I’ve written and, perhaps, if the mood strikes me I may do this again some day. Until then, thanks for taking an interest.

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Are Trailers Getting Worse?

In 1964, Bob Dylan released his album The Times They Are A-Changing and unknowingly added a brand new phrase to the public lexicon. Of course the statement itself is true, but I think that it is sometimes taken for granted, and taken to mean that times have changed over the past hundred years or so. The fact is that we see changes happen over the course of a single lifetime, and even in as few as 20 years, especially within the film industry. More specifically, I think it’s best seen in film trailers. The real “moment” of realisation for me was when I watched the trailer for 2020’s Dune (or Dune20). It is worth noting that as of initially writing this, I knew nothing about the story of Dune, first told in the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, but that I knew I should be excited. Dune is, after all, one of the most prolific pieces of science fiction ever written, and has essentially been the basis for this entire genre that I hold so dear. So imagine my surprise when upon watching the trailer for Dune20 I felt this rare sense of ambivalence. This prompted me to do what I think anybody in my position would do- watch the trailer for the 1984 adaptation starring Kyle MacLachlan (henceforth known as Dune84).

Remember that I have no knowledge of the source material at this point, and that I have been underwhelmed by the Dune20 trailer, and then imagine my surprise when the trailer for Dune84 had me hyped. I enjoyed this trailer so much that I watched the film itself that afternoon, and though flawed in parts, ended up thoroughly enjoying it. So what is it about the 1984 trailer that excited me in a way that the 2020 trailer did not?

The first noticeable aspect is that the new trailer is almost half a minute longer than its predecessor, clocking in at 3 minutes and 15 seconds. This is not a massive time difference, but the 1984 trailer was longer than most other trailers of the time. For comparison, the trailers for Ghostbusters and Gremlins were 2 minutes long while the trailer for Raiders of the Lost Ark was a staggering 2 and a half minutes. Newer blockbusters like No Time To Die and Tenet come closer to the 3 minute mark, if not creeping over it. It seems like new trailers either have more footage in them, or longer snippets of footage, and I think that the former is more likely. This footage seems to hold a different purpose as well; older trailers aimed to get across the general tone and plot of the film with a focus on the interactions between characters, whereas new trailers are very Visual Effects heavy. It feels like they are more interested in proving themselves as worthy of your time, and in the case of Comic Book Movies, proving that they have That Particular Thing from the source material that you like. If you’d like my thoughts on that ridiculous notion, I have a piece on it HERE. The standout example of this attempt to be worthy in the Dune20 is the appearance of the giant sandworm, which is of course, accompanied by the Inception BWONG. It simply screams “look, we have the thing and doesn’t it look amazing” and, for the record, it does. But it’s simply not the big deal it’s made out to be. There is this hype to new trailers that simply was not present in older trailers. The slow building music to a crescendo, and the dramatic element of the plot being played up, are a stark contrast to the relatively relaxed trailer of Batman ’89 or Empire Strikes Back. I do understand this shift, and I think a large part of it is that the production that goes on behind the scenes is more heavily reported. You don’t need a trailer to give you the plot or tone anymore because you know all that, you just want to see the one thing you haven’t so far- footage.

The most relaxing aspect of these old trailers was, in my opinion, the voice-over, which has sadly been all but abandoned. Initially, it was everywhere, providing plot details and cast names over the footage which helped keep the runtime of trailers to a minimum. However through the late 1990’s and early 2000’s it was relegated to romantic comedies and children’s films, before being phased out almost entirely. Instead, studios have opted to insert written text into their trailers such as “Coming This Christmas” and “Starring These Actors”. This led to an odd period of overlap in the early 200’s where these pieces of text would appear on screen as well as being read in the voice-over, which was bizarre and wonderful and could only have occurred in the early 2000’s. I think the true death of trailer voice-overs came in 2008, with the passing of Don LaFontaine who had provided vocals for over 5,000 trailers in his nearly 50 year career. LaFontaine was THE voice-over guy, and it garnered him nicknames like The Voice of God, a testament to how heavy his impact was on the film industry. Hollywood never attempted to replace him, and if you wanted trailers with voice-over these days, you are relegated to the YouTube channel Screen Junkies and their series Honest Trailers. They feature the voice of Jon Bailey who is a professional voice-actor and the trailers are wonderfully hilarious reviews of the films themselves.

Part of the reason for a change in aesthetics in trailers is also due to a change in the films they are advertising. Most noticeably is the change in colour palette, especially with science fiction films, which has become de-saturated in recent years. The realistic, bright or sometimes neon colours of the 1980’s have become grey and bland in no small part, I believe, thanks to the popularity of 2008s The Dark Knight, which in turn makes the trailers for these films devoid of colour. This is an aspect that I’m not particularly fond of, because I think it brings a sense of uniformity to the entire science fiction genre, and I dread to think what would happen if it was allowed to affect the entire film industry. Frankly, I think that this dark, gritty tone in an attempt to make your film more adult and “serious” is ridiculous, despite the fact that I have enjoyed many of these films. It isn’t a genre specific issue either, because I think that Hollywood is taking itself too seriously and is being taken too seriously by everyone. I think that everybody needs to take a step back and remind themselves why we have a film industry in the first place, which is primarily to entertain. I think that is the real difference between the trailers for Dune84 and Dune20 – one of them was more entertaining to watch than the other. Trailers aren’t worse, they have simply changed, and I’m sure that in due time they will change again. It’s up to the audience to decide if they will watch or not when that time comes.

Until Next Time…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Disney Average

The preservation of our history is important. This includes the history of art and of our pop culture, a large amount of which has been provided or bought by the Walt Disney Company since 1923. My feelings on the House of Mouse are complicated, given that while I grew up with their movies, they are a multi-billion dollar corporation focused on everything that exists. This has really come to a head with the release of their subscription service Disney+ which I was adamant should not be allowed to succeed. As was perhaps inevitable, my family have signed up, and so I can reap the benefits without paying a single penny, which is ideal. So the question remains- being one of its biggest naysayers, what do I make of it?

Without question, the biggest advantage of Disney+ is the access to an extensive catalogue of Disney properties. There are classic shows like Ducktales, and Recess, classic films like Hercules, and The Love Bug, as well as newer hits like Moana and Frozen. There really is something for everyone. There is also a vast amount of cartoon shorts dating back to before 1928’s Steamboat Willie but, ironically, this same catalogue may be one of the service’s greatest flaws. Other subscription services like Netflix and NowTV have a massive selection of ever rotating shows and films from a variety of different companies. Not only do both these of mediums go back decades, but they are coming out with new content at a rapid pace, meaning there is no shortage of things to stream. Disney does not have this advantage. While it is true that The Mouse has an extensive vault, it is not infinite. This is most likely why there are still properties that haven’t yet been uploaded, and I suspect that we may never see a day when 100% of their creations are available. Even with the rate that Disney is swallowing up companies, they will not be able to produce content at the rate it is being consumed.

With the release of Disney+ comes the death of the Disney Vault. This was how the company invented scarcity for their films in the home media market. Once released, a film would be held “in the vault” and re-released on video every 10 years, which was your only opportunity to purchase it. As time progressed, “The Vault” became a generic term for the hypothetical place where Disney stored their past projects, both in film and television. Executive Chairman and former CEO Bob Iger has said [in THIS Variety article] that “at some point fairly soon after launch, it will have the entire Disney motion picture library” which completely eradicates the concept of The Vault, although I couldn’t find a specific statement on their television shows. If we take this statement about Disney+ having everything at face value, then the service for all intents and purposes, will become The New Disney Vault. However I don’t foresee us being given access to 100% of Disney’s content, and even if we do I doubt it will be in its original form. It’s no secret that several films have already been altered, with the most notable being 1984’s Splash! A brief moment of posterior nudity is replaced by some really poor CGI hair extension. Supposedly this was done to make it more child-friendly, so I expect we will see more of these alterations in the months to come.

The true embodiment of Disney+ not being full to the brim with films is the overwhelming lack of Song of the South. This film, released in 1946, focuses on the stories of Brere Rabbit as told by a character called Uncle Remus. It’s one of the earliest instances of a film blending live-action with hand-drawn animation and, as a result, is a semi-important piece of cinematic history. It also features the Academy Award winning song Zip-a-dee-doo-dah which remains part of the societal lexicon to this day. While it has seen cinematic re-releases for various anniversaries in subsequent years, with the last being in 1986, and has screened on television as recently as as 2006, there is still no DVD release. Non-American countries can experience the film on VHS, should you be able to find a copy, but America has never seen any kind of Home Video release. When questioned about the possibility of a release over the years, former CEOs Micheal Eisner and Bob Iger have stated that we may still see Song of the South on DVD, with Iger clarifying [in THIS Deadline article] that we would never see it on Disney+ due to “out-dated cultural depictions” that are “inappropriate in today’s world”. I firmly believe that not releasing Song of the South is a mistake, and that hiding from the mistakes of the past in no substitute to learning from them. This is especially true when you consider that 1941’s Dumbo is still available on the service…Jim Crow and all.

The secondary selling point of Disney+ is its original content which includes The World According to Jeff Goldblum and The Mandalorian. In my opinion, The Mandalorian is one of the best pieces of Star Wars media we have received in recent years, and making it the flagship series of the subscription service is one of the best decisions Disney has ever made. Releasing episodes on a weekly basis means that if people want to keep up to date with the adventures of Baby Yoda, it can’t just be done via the 7-day free trial. That 7-days, by the way, is well below the 30-day free trial of other subscription sites and whilst I understand why they would do this, it seems a bit rude. The Mandalorian has now finished airing its first series, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they continue to keep this weekly routine for the rest of their shows. Long story short, unless you’re willing to pirate this new content, you will be required to have a Disney+ subscription in order to prevent falling behind. This is particularly true in regards to their Marvel shows which will not only tie into the larger MCU, but will be essential in understanding its future films. I hate this. It sickens me. The MCU has always been largely accessible, and much of the surrounding community finds a real sense of belonging in this fictional universe, as well as fellow fans. Hiding pivotal plot points behind a continual paywall is some pure capitalist garbage which will end up alienating a lot of people. I’m all for cross media story-telling, Star Wars has been doing it for years, but that media has to be easily accessible. If you need to buy a Star Wars book, comic or audio-story it’s a one-off payment and adds to the lore of the universe instead of defining the main franchise plotline. Disney has made some good decisions with their subscription service but this decision is their worst.

At the end of the day, Disney+ is fine, but it really lacks in some areas. There is a good enough range of media available for the time being but it isn’t nearly self-sustainable enough and certainly isn’t anywhere near the level we were told to expect [To see just how incomplete their library is, check out THIS comprehensive list from What’s on Disney+]. A perfect version of this service is not just one that contains 100% of Disney’s un-edited content, but also one that is free. Art should be able to be viewed by anyone and it is this simple belief that would appear to be why many art galleries are free. If this is true of paintings and sculptures then surely it should also be true of film? Unfortunately, it isn’t quite this simple, owing to a number of things like copyright and trademark laws. Had Disney chosen only to Copyright their material it would have eventually entered the public domain but because they trademark everything, this will never happen. Regardless of this, Disney has enough money that they can afford to make the service free. Between ticket sales for their movies and parks as well as profits from merchandising, the House of Mouse could take some time off and still make a substantial income. An ideal system might be one where they release a movie to theatres, sell the DVD and then wait 5 years before uploading it to The New Vault. I can’t say that I recommend Disney+, but if if it’s to be shared by your family then it may be worth it.

Until Next Time…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer